Pakistan retaliates with strikes inside Iran

Pakistan carried out retaliatory airstrikes in Iran early Thursday, allegedly targeting militant positions amid rising tensions between the neighboring nations.

A Pakistani official told ABC News that Thursday's strikes hit training camps belonging to Baluch insurgents in southeastern Iran, near the border with Pakistan. About seven locations were targeted and at least seven people were killed, according to preliminary information.

The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement describing Thursday's action as a "series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts in Sistan-o-Baluchistan province of Iran."

"A number of terrorists were killed during the Intelligence-based operation - codenamed 'Marg Bar Sarmachar,'" the ministry said. "This action is a manifestation of Pakistan's unflinching resolve to protect and defend its national security against all threats."

The ministry noted that "Iran is a brotherly country and the people of Pakistan have great respect and affection for the Iranian people." Islamabad has "always emphasized dialogue and cooperation in confronting common challenges including the menace of terrorism and will continue to endeavor to find joint solutions." according to the ministry.

The Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned Thursday's strikes and summoned the Pakistani ambassador to explain. At least nine people -- four children, three women and two men -- who were non-Iranian citizens were killed, according to Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi.

Thursday's attack came in response to Iranian airstrikes in Pakistan on Tuesday, targeting what Tehran described as bases for the Sunni separatist group Jaish al-Adl. Tuesday's strikes killed two children and injured three others in southwestern Pakistan's Baluchistan province, near the border with Iran, according to the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which called the attack an "unprovoked violation of its airspace.

Iran also conducted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria late Monday in response to a suicide bombing that killed more than 90 people earlier this month, for which the Sunni militant group Islamic State claimed responsibility.

Tensions were already high in the Middle East amid Israel's ongoing war with Hamas in the neighboring Gaza Strip and growing fears that it could spread into a regional war.

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